THE Womens Institute was back at the Great Yorkshire Show after a one year absence.
It was a most welcome return, judging by the crowds in the WI pavilion, where displays celebrated the organisations centenary. Last year, the WI was priced off the showground when the Yorks Agricultural Society raised the rent for the pavilion.
"The rent hike nearly caused us a heart attack," said Jo Kearns, chairman of WIs GYS committee. "We realise that the society has to run the show more as a business but we dont have an income as such and one or two areas were already finding it a strain to fund delegates to come to the show."
However, it was decided that they should look for a compromise and this has been amicably reached.
"We have hung on to the catering, which we needed to do as this is the only thing that brings in money for us and it pays the rent. This year all the cakes are home-made and we are making scones fresh every day here in the pavilion," said Mrs Kearns, who has been a member for 21 years.
Demonstrations of crafts this year were intended to encourage people to have a go themselves at home, as none involved expensive equipment. The basics of salt dough modelling, ribbon-craft, peg rugs, patchwork and beadwork are fairly easy to master.
"I actually made something out of salt dough for the first time this year and entered it into one of competitions. I got 18/20 for the effort – a tree with a bird in it – and I am quite proud of it. When I get that 8th day in the week, I would like to try some more complicated designs," says Mrs Kearns, who feels the WI gives members the opportunity to try all sorts of things and the confidence to pursue them.
"And we have never flinched at discussing important issues. In 1922 we were talking about the prevention of venereal disease – not something we could find a way to demonstrate here," she said as she showed off the exhibits depicting the achievements of the past 100 years, which include the Keep Britain Tidy campaign which was a WI initiative.
A compromise over rent pales to insignificance against such things.
Scones dont come any fresher than these baked in the pavilion by Pauline Hawks (left) and Hazel Johnson from Well and Snape WI.
Jo Kearns (centre) was keen that crafts demonstrated should be simple and inexpensive for people to try at home. Pauline Lawton (left) and Pat Parsons made rag rug making look easy and worthwhile.